Archive for August 31st, 2008

31
Aug
08

Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle: the good, bad, and ugly

Joey Barton shouldn’t even have been on the pitch.

His tackle on Samir Nasri, and disgusting grin afterwards (which even the announcers decried) sent a clear signal to the FA, to his employers, and to the rest of the footballing world that Joey Barton was back and had not indeed changed one bit after his stint in prison. For someone who grew up on mean streets he should feel blessed to have what he has: money, cars, women, freedom, and adoration. But Barton’s just not wired that way. He’s the kind of guy who sees 6 months in jail as just the price that everyone has to pay if they want Joey around. Stub a cigar out in a teammates eye? Beat a teammate’s face in? A ludicrous tackle in the 90th minute of a game in which you have lost 3-0? Just the price you have to pay if you want Joey Barton on your team.

After the game, Keegan not only defended Barton, but had the temerity to actually criticize Nasri, who received a yellow for his retaliation.

He [Barton] came on and got a good tackle in on Nasri, a very good tackle, then the guy just sliced him down as he was running through. Write it any way you want, but if you write any different you are deceiving your readers.

Barton’s tackle technically could be called “good,” he did win the ball, but it was clearly excessive and with that cheeky smile he proved that it was only done to send a “message:” welcome to the EPL Frenchie. Nasri, on the other hand, sent a message of his own: fuck you you talentless criminal. He was rightly booked for his little trip but make no mistake Nasri didn’t “slice” anyone down. Keegan’s the only one who is deceiving the public.

I just can’t understand why Barton made such a full blooded tackle. Nasri wasn’t showboating, the club wasn’t running up the score, there was no disrespect from Nasri prior, there was no sense to a tackle of that magnitude unless Barton just wanted to send a message. Arsenal was fortunate that Nasri got out of the way because 1 inch to the right and Nasri would have been in the same boat as Eduardo and now (possibly) van Persie.

My message to the EPL is the same as it has been since the Taylor “message” tackle that broke Eduardo’s leg: managers who reward their players for these kinds of tackles are a scourge on the game and should be fined, players who perform them should be banned, and youth should be taught how to play football instead of how to be a cunt. Until then, England will never win a world competition. Never. Because Football is more than just “getting stuck in” and when a no talent criminal like Joey Barton can get international caps just because he’s able to “get stuck in,” then English football is lost.

That tackle and the subsequent defense by that fool Keegan were The Ugly of yesterday’s match. In fact, the way Newcastle comported themselves at all times on the pitch was The Ugly yesterday. From Nicky Butt stepping on everyone’s ankles, to Colloccini’s late challenge on van Persie that may have broken his ankle (part of the reason this blog is late today is because I was hoping to get news on van Persie’s x-ray) Newcastle came out and wanted to dirty up the match, so they get an Ugly award for that. When Keegan came in to the team he said he wanted to play football the Arsenal way: open, attacking football. Subsequently, his team lost 3-0 and 3-0 to the Arsenal way. This year, I guess he’s decided that the Arsenal way isn’t going to work for him and he’s got Nicky Butt and Joey Barton in to break ankles.  The man is a fraud and a hack, which makes he and Barton a perfect pair.  Good luck Newcastle fans, relegation is waiting.

With The Ugly out of the way, let’s move on to more pleasant territory, shall we?

The Good

3 goals to the Arsenal! I watched the match live on Fox Soccer Channel and there was some American dude and some English dude chattering about the game prior to kickoff. They were hemming and hawing about how Arsenal don’t score enough goals and they are a great team to watch but they don’t score enough goals, and gosh darndit if they just don’t score enough goals. In fact, the English dude predicted a 1-0 Arsenal victory and even had a bit of a laugh about that score line reminding everyone of the “boring boring Arsenal” days.

HAR HAR

It really was good to see a rampant Arsenal squad and for me, this game really cleared up some doubts I’ve been expressing lately. Can Arsenal overcome an overly physical team? Is Denilson good enough? Will van Persie get off the snide? The answer to all these questions is a resounding YES!

Despite his pedestrian start, Denilson warmed up after a (who else?) Nicky Butt challenge. Before that challenge he literally passed the ball more to the opponents than he did to his teammates. Maybe he’s just the kind of player that needs some time to warm up, or maybe he’s just a kid and he’s going to have days like these. Whatever the answer, he turned in a fantastic second 30 minutes keeping the ball in, policing the midfield, winning balls off headers, tackles, you name it. It was a good performance, and he certainly deserved the goal for all his hard work. Let’s hope it was a watershed performance.

Robin van Persie too had a bit of a breakthrough in this game.  His first goal came off a weak penalty that was more makeup call for the earlier no call that was a clear penalty.  Of course Kevin Keegan didn’t think the tackle earlier was a penalty, nor of course N’Zogbia’s clear handball.  It may have been a bit harsh for Arsenal to get that penalty but I’ve seen that exact same call go against Arsenal (William Gallas’s handball against Man U springs to mind) and so you have to chalk it up to the “football gods” evening everything out; and by “football gods” I mean “referees.”

His second goal was pure team football at its best; Eboue carried the ball forward, passed wide, received the return and (hearing him holler for the ball) back heeled for a lunging van Persie who smashed the ball into the top of the net. Despite still being largely useless, that was Eboue’s first assist in all competitions since December of last year, coincidentally, his last assist was also against Newcastle. Let’s hope it was a watershed assist and a watershed goal.  Watershed.

Mike Ashley chugged a beer, which was about the only good thing Newcastle did all day.  I believe that the chugging of that beer was watershed in some way, I just don’t know what yet.

3 goals, Denilson coming alive, van Persie off the snide, and Nasri not taking any of Barton’s crap.  Hell, the whole damn game was good.  Bravo to the Arsenal and what a way to make a comeback off that dreadful Fulham game.

The Bad

I think I’ve complained enough for today, don’t you? Besides, the team won 3-0, everyone worked hard, and the guys put in the kind of performance that we all hoped for. What could possibly be bad about that?

If you want to check replays of the goals (plus Joey Barton’s tackle) head on over to The Arsenalist.  He’s not just bad, The Arsenalist is bad ass!

That’s it for today.  I’m watching Litterpool and going to have a kick around.  Something has to shake this hangover.

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